Savoring Victory…?

There are a number of ways to describe the success of the 2012 Nationals season in numerical form.

Wins? Sure, best record in the game.

Team ERA? Cool, not bad.

Runs Created? Delightful.

Number of wins, correlated with the number of times Tom Gorzelanny takes off his cap, and rubs his head with the bill of it before he puts it back on in between pitches? Not that I’ve measured this*, but let’s just say keep scratchin’ that itch, Gorzo.

Needless to say, there are many variables, and many combinations thereof to show the Nats had a tip top season in 2012. However, the season ended too soon for a dominant squad, and most of the winter for the front office will be spent picking apart every game, every situation, every pitch, in order to find the weak link in the winning chain, with the hopes that shoring up the weakness(es) will bring home a World Series title next year.

Over the past several weeks, I have dedicated tens of minutes in the search for the cause of the untimely death of the 2012 Nationals season. I’ve done the math. I have recreated the scene of the crime, time and time again. I have used the best tools and the technology that is available to find the culprit. I have used lots of ballistics gel and Luminol in the process.

While there are many accomplices to this crime, I found one whose implication shook me to my core. I am at such a loss for words; I am going to need some help from a dear friend of mine, perhaps yours, to tell us who played a role in the demise of the 2012 Nationals.

It looks like the 2012 Washington Nationals have fallen on…



Yes, it’s true. A gimmick to get butts in seats is hurting the Nats. A gimmick predicated upon the Nats to score a buttload of runs. A gimmick, speaking of butts and runs, that involves hot wings.

As most know, any time the Nationals score 6 or more runs during a home game, if you present your ticket stub at a Hard Times Cafe location, you get a free order of 6 Hard Times wings. A win-win situation, if there ever was one. However, there is trouble amiss with the situation, and it’s not exclusive to your gastrointestinal tract.

Let’s look at the how the Nats fared during Hard Times – home games with 6 or more runs scored – in 2012:




















Not a bad showing at all. Granted, when your team scores 6 or more runs at home, you sort of expect them to win, and overall, teams do just that; for 2012, NL teams were 288-57 in games where they score 6+ runs at home. Anecdotally, the Nats were 45-6 in all 2012 games where they put 6 or more on the board.

I know what you’re thinking – how is a .840 winning percentage a bad thing? Winning is good! Wings are good! Why do you hate America?

Well, much like the day after a gastronomic experience such as putting away the spicy winning that are Hard Times wings, games after these Hard Times propelled offensive explosions find the Nats hitters outputs circling the drain. To wit:





















Sure, the Nats still *barely* have a winning record (a .520 winning percentage) in post Hard Times games, so there’s that, but you can roughly cut all other offensive output in half, compared to Hard Times outbursts.

What gives? Why are the 4.4 runs after Hard Times games only good for barely .500 play?

In general, the power displayed during a Hard Times game is sputtering out, but still present the next day, but somehow, those runs aren’t redeemable for a win. This sluggishness doesn’t end with the bats, as Nats legs seem to slow down a tad as well after Hard Times games; for the 28 bags swiped during those high octane Hard Times games, only 19 are taken the next day.

Compare this to the games the Nationals played at home without Hard Times implications. In the 42 games played that didn’t involve 6 or more runs scored that game or the game before, the Nats had a 24-18 record, with a paltry 3 runs per game scored average. Yet, those runs were still good for a .571 winning percentage, a sizeable improvement over the .520 ball played post Hard Times games. Even with the Nats 2012 average of 4.5 runs scored per home game – 4.5 runs good enough for a .617 winning percentage – used for comparison, we still come to the conclusion there is something about these wings that make for a trying day for the Nats the day after obtaining winged victory for the fans.

No matter what reasons you use to explain the downfall of a memorable 2012 season for the Nationals, it still remains a season stained by a multitude of what-ifs.

Let it be known, those stains taste of Hard Times buffalo sauce.

*I’ve measured this

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